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today’s news for Thursday, March 10, 2022

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NEWS FROM NASFAA

Congressional appropriators, in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, unveiled an omnibus spending package in an effort to settle negotiations for the current fiscal year’s budgeting cycle. The massive, $1.5 trillion package would allocate $76.4 billion to the Department of Education (ED) and its programs, a $2.9 billion boost from the fiscal year (FY) 2021 enacted level.

The omnibus spending package unveiled by congressional appropriators on Wednesday morning includes several changes to the FAFSA Simplification Act, which passed as part of last year’s appropriations bill in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Changes are largely technical, but include some wins for financial aid administrators and students as a result of successful advocacy efforts by NASFAA and others.

With payments set to resume in less than two months and the economic recovery holding strong, the administration is at a crossroads as advocacy groups continue to push for some form of student loan forgiveness — or at least another extension of the payment pause — and little is publicly known about the Department of Education’s (ED) effort to raise awareness surrounding the resumption of payments.  Further complicating the prospects of debt forgiveness is the desire among policymakers to address the underlying issues in how students finance their postsecondary education that leads to huge debt loads.

NASFAA this week submitted written comments to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) regarding the recent request for information the office issued detailing some of its plans surrounding student loan servicing and the roles of Business Process Operations (BPOs). In the comments, NASFAA asked for additional information about FSA’s plans related to borrowers in default and what entity is responsible for communication and outreach with this group of borrowers. NASFAA also expressed disappointment about the apparent loss of the single portal initiative, as co-branding communications from the Department of Education (ED) along with student loan servicers could add confusion if the plan is to transition all communications to eventually only use ED branding. FSA’s long-term NextGen initiative has been a focus of the office for years and is coming to fruition in the coming months, with the new contracts with student loan servicers set to go live in December 2023.

NASFAA UPDATES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on March 9, 2022 to note the U.S. Department of Education (ED) automatically will be extending the spending deadline to June 30, 2023 on all open Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants with more than $1,000 of unspent funds. View the full answer to this question to learn more.

Last month, NASFAA successfully concluded our first in-person conference in more than two years, in Washington D.C. We are excited to build on this momentum this June at the 2022 NASFAA National Conference in Austin, Texas. Nothing can replicate the networking and community-building that comes from an in-person conference, and strengthening our community is more important now than ever. Read more about both the in-person national conference and subsequent Virtual Conference in a letter from NASFAA President Justin Draeger and National Chair Brent Tener, explore session descriptions for NASFAA 2022, and register to secure your spot today. We hope to see you in Austin!

In its commitment to the graduate and professional community, NASFAA is providing a town hall webinar as a forum for graduate and professional financial aid administrators on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Tune in as we discuss current issues of concern for their students and peers, and address audience questions. Register now.

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